Announcing the SEVENTH Annual What A Character! Blogathon – Dec. 14-16, 2018

9th August 1933: Jean Harlow (1911 - 1937) is Hollywood sex goddess Lola Burns and Frank Morgan (1890 - 1949) is her father, Pop Burns, in 'Bombshell', (aka 'Blonde Bombshell') directed by Victor Fleming. Mary Forbes (1883 - 1974) plays Mrs Middleton.
Frank Morgan and June Brewster are just two of the superb character actors in BOMBSHELL (1933). Image via Doctor Macro

When you re-watch your favorite films, what keeps you coming back for more? A great story with sharp writing? No doubt. Beautiful costumes, swanky set designs, and stunning cinematography? Most assuredly. But the performances are key to any movie. While we all look forward to the popular leading actors, it is the stand-out, scene-stealing supporting actors that feel like “home.”

Wise-cracking Eve Arden, nurturing Louise Beavers, sassy Thelma Ritter, double-take pro Edward Everett Horton, tart-tongued Edna May Oliver, gravelly-voiced Eddie “Rochester” Anderson, fatherly Charles Coburn, frazzled Franklin Pangborn, bullfrog-voiced, barrel-chested Eugene Pallette, cigar-chomping Ned Sparks… these and so many more lovable character actors are who we look forward to seeing as our dearest old chums. We all could use a trusted sidekick.

stagecoach-1939a-700w
John Ford’s STAGECOACH (1939) was rife with talented characters.

For the 7th consecutive year, we as the blogathon hosting trio of Aurora of Once Upon A Screen and @CitizenScreen, Kellee of Outspoken & Freckled and @IrishJayhawk66, and myself, Paula of Paula’s Cinema Club and @Paula_Guthat invite you to join us for the WHAT A CHARACTER! BLOGATHON 2018, December 14, 15, 16, as we pay tribute to the brilliance of the supporting players.

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Curse of the Demon (1957) gifs

With a ton of alternate titles and a couple different versions (U.S. and U.K.), this film based on the short story “Casting the Runes” by M.R. James is both genuinely creepy and a fitting part of Turner Classic Movies’ tribute to Peggy Cummins, who passed away on December 29, 2017 at the age of 92. If you haven’t seen it, or even if you have, you ought to, plus it’s the TCM Party tonight at 9:45 p.m. Eastern with guest host Jim Phoel aka @DraconicVerses.

It’s got some really gorgeous black-and-white cinematography by Edward Scaife (who also shot The Third Man) under the direction of dollar-from-a-dime maestro Jacques Tourneur (Out of the Past, Cat People, I Walked with a Zombie). I made some apparently oversized gifs from it (too big for tumblr) and I’m parking ’em here. More gifs after the jump…

curse of the demon plane

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#TCMFF 2017 Recap

I love reporting all the goings on from the Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival, held every year in Los Angeles. Not only is it a chance to see some great films with appreciative audiences, it’s also great to catch up with online #TCMParty friends who quickly become IRL friends, and to reunite with offline friends. It’s just a big classic movie love fest, as you can read below…more tweets and IG posts after the jump.

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Review: Movie Nights with the Reagans

I sometimes have difficulty separating an artist from their art, although I’ve been able to accomplish it several times. Would I be able to do so when the artist in question was a President of the United States whose art included not only films, but policies that transformed the Republican Party, the American economy, and the course of the Cold War? Movie Nights with the Reagans by Mark Weinberg has arrived to pose this question.

Whatever your feelings about Reagan’s politics, and mine are by no means completely positive, this new book affirms any belief in the influence of film on society. It is written by Mark Weinberg, who in 1981, when the book begins, was serving as an assistant press secretary at the White House. He was one of the few staff members invited along on the Reagans’ weekends at Camp David, where there is a movie theater. In the privacy of the Aspen Lodge, the First Family and their guests sat in comfy chairs as popcorn was served in baskets, and watched contemporary and classic movies on Friday and Saturday nights, in good times (landslide re-election) and in bad (assassination attempts).

The book is organized mostly chronologically, with one chapter per film, beginning with the first weekend trip of Reagan’s presidency in February of 1981 (the film was 9 to 5) all the way up to 1987, including September of 1985, when the chosen film was Ronald and Nancy’s only one together, Hellcats of the Navy, which was also the last feature in which either Reagan appeared. The connections between the films and the memories in each chapter can be tenuous but are nonetheless fascinating. Weinberg was in a unique position of truly unparalled access, enabling him to now deliver an assortment of anecdotes; he seems to have been both an employee and a friend of both the Reagans, with a closeness verging on that of family.

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31 Days of Oscar: Day 3

While there’s still a week of Best Picture nominees and winners left in TCM’s 31 Days of Oscar tribute, today our Sixth Annual blogathon of the same name draws to a close with a bumper crop of fabulous and informative entries centered on the Golden Man and his history with everyone from Janet Gaynor to Forrest Gump and Agnes Varda.

Always Try discusses Katharine Hepburn’s [many] Oscar Wins.

Another Old Movie Blog analyzes the context around Joan Crawford’s win for Mildred Pierce.

Life’s Lessons Daily Blog delves into the social and emotional significance of the Awards in More than an Award Show: Oscars, The Host and Forrest Gump (1994).

Blog of the Darned presents seven films that should have been nominated for Best Picture in Great Movies: 7, Oscar: 0.

Old Hollywood Films recaps the career and Oscar year of Janet Gaynor, The First Best Actress Winner.

Moon in Gemini recalls a wide range of Forgotten Oscar Nominees and Winners from The Racket (1928) to Brad Dourif (yes, he got the nod!)

Classic Film Observations and Obsessions investigates Agnès Varda’s turn at an Oscar with Face, Places (2017).

Silver Screen Classics examines the first film to win the “Big Five” Oscars, It Happened One Night (1934).

The Nitrate Diva analyzes Best Screenplay winner Pillow Talk, “a movie that empathizes with the problems of working women and takes their concerns seriously.”

This post is part of the Sixth Annual 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon, hosted by myself, Kellee at Outspoken and Freckled, and Aurora at Once Upon A Screen.

Day 1 Posts

Day 2 Posts

31 Days of Oscar: Day Two

Aurora at Once Upon A Screen picks up with Day 2 of our Sixth Annual ‘Thon!

The Oscar frenzy continues on Day 2 of the 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon. Today is my day to host a group of entries covering topics from a memorable drag competition to Oscar mistakes. If you missed any of the posts from Day One, please visit Kellee at Outspoken and Freckled. Lots of terrific stuff […]

via Day Two: 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon — Once upon a screen…

31 Days of Oscar: Oscar SNUBS, 2018 Edition!

Gal Gadot, Patty Jenkins, and Lucy Davis on the set of WONDER WOMAN

Much like excellence in ice dancing, excellence in cinema is a subjective thing. The Academy Awards can only be a consensus on what is produced in a given year, but considering how difficult it can be to get even two people to agree on any film, it’s no wonder differences of opinion can and do crop up where gold is concerned, on everything from categories — which I have plenty of thoughts about, but that’s another post* — to particular nominees, or more to the point, NON-nominees. Herewith I present an unlucky 7 of this year’s most glaring Oscar omissions, in no particular order. Warning: There might be spoilers in here, depending on exactly what you consider a spoiler. Check them all out after the jump.

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31 Days of Oscar: Day One

Kellee presents Day One of our Sixth Annual 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon!

It’s here! The time has finally arrived to celebrate that marvelously golden man, Oscar. For an entire month, Turner Classic Movies network puts on a grand gala tribute to the winners of that coveted statuette, and for six years we’ve joined the party. Please join my co-hosts Aurora (aka @CitizenScreen) of Once Upon A Screen, […]

via Day One: 31 DAYS OF OSCAR BLOGATHON — Outspoken and Freckled

Announcing the 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon!

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences handed out its first Awards at a dinner party for about 250 people on May 16, 1929, to honor movies released from August 1, 1927 – August 1, 1928. The organization’s first president, Douglas Fairbanks, hosted and presented at the ceremony, held in the Blossom Room of the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood. The brainchild of MGM studio mogul Louis B. Mayer, the Academy was formed in 1927 as a non-profit dedicated to the advancement and improvement of the film industry. Some might argue about some of those achievements, but there is one thing that is sure to impress classic movie and Hollywood fans: When the music plays to open this year’s Oscars on March 4, 2018, it will be the 90th time the film industry has honored achievements in movies. Check out all the 1929 nominees and winners.

If you look through 90 years of Oscars ceremonies, you’ll find numerous surprises, disappointments, and controversies, any number of which may spur debate from film aficionados. That’s where we come in. For the sixth consecutive year, I am joining forces with Kellee of Outspoken & Freckled and @Irishjayhawk66 and Aurora of Once Upon A Screen and @CitizenScreen to bring you the 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon. Given Oscar’s special anniversary and all of the memories, we hope you’ll consider joining us to make this the best and brightest outing yet. Details & list of participating blogs after the jump…

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Same Song, Different Movie: “Cry to Me” by Solomon Burke


The idea for this post is shamelessly borrowed with permission from my friend Michael at It Rains … You Get Wet and his fascinating Same Song-Different Movie series, which

looks at the use of “needle dropped” songs, many of them popular tunes, in movies. Specifically, in more than one. Yet they are not officially considered part of a film’s score. A score consists of those orchestral, choral, or instrumental pieces some consider background music. Both music forms are equally utilized as cues by filmmakers for a specific purpose or to elicit certain reactions by the audience.


On December 6, 1961, singer Solomon Burke recorded the country/soul/R&B mashup “Cry to Me.” The song’s upbeat melody, crisp tempo, and soaring vocal belie its themes of loneliness and weariness. It was released  in 1962 as a single with “I Almost Lost My Mind” on the b-side and placed on Billboard’s Hot R&B (peaking at #5) and Hot 100 (#44) charts upon its release. The song was written and produced by Bert Berns (aka Bert Russell), a Juilliard-trained musician, with whom Burke had a rocky relationship. Burke had rejected two other Berns compositions during the same session and was reluctant to record “Cry” as well — until Burke decided to speed it up. The song became one of the singer’s biggest hits, cementing his image as the “King of Rock ‘n’ Soul,” and it soon had a permanent place in the popular music songbook. Per Wikipedia, the varied and numerous artists to cover the immortal track include Betty Harris, the Pretty Things, the Rolling Stones, Raul Malo of the Mavericks, and the late great Tom Petty. The song was recently used in two mostly different features to very different effect, released less than a year apart: ’71 (2014) and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015). While both films share certain plot keywords and deal in varying degrees with covert operations, the tone of each couldn’t be more different.

Continue reading “Same Song, Different Movie: “Cry to Me” by Solomon Burke”